Hear all that shattering glass? That's David Shuster's house. The MSNBC host threw his latest rock when he snidely thanked Samuel Wurzelbacher, Joe the Plumber for a "lesson in tolerance" during the 11:00 hour of MSNBC's live news coverage on May 5.
And now a lesson in tolerance from Joe the Plumber. In an interview with Christian [sic] Today, he says we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, even has some friend who are gay. But he says he doesn't let his gay friends, quote, anywhere near his children. Oh, and according to Joe, queer is not a slur. It just means strange and unusual. Thank you, Joe the Christian.
Christianity Today asked Wurzelbacher about his views on same-sex marriage at a state level and he responded:
Time and time again, on-air talent from MSNBC's daytime news coverage has tried to distance itself the far left-leaning commentators on the network during prime time hours.
However, David Shuster has no qualms taking a position publicly and incorporating it into his daytime news coverage. Shuster, who has been outspoken in his support for same-sex marriage, abandoned the pretense of journalistic objectivity and launched into a shouting match/debate with Brian Brown, the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) on MSNBC on May 1.
"Explain how it is that the gay couple or the lesbian couple down the street has any impact on my marriage or on yours?" Shuster asked.
During the 3PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell turned to White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie for reaction to President Obama’s surprise appearance at the daily press briefing to discuss the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter: "Savannah, let me just start with you, the shock factor. I mean, you've got that seat right there by where the President walked out. Were you surprised?" Guthrie replied: "Shocked is more like it, Norah. I felt a little bit like I was having a dream sequence minus the pink unicorn. I have to say, we attend those briefings every day, they are rarely so exciting." [audio for download here]
Guthrie went on to explain: "I had kind of been giving Gibbs a little bit of a hard time, saying, 'look, why does everyone in Washington know this and you're telling us there's been no communication between Justice Souter, the Supreme Court, and the White House?' And sure enough, the President walks in and said ‘I just got off the phone with Justice Souter.’" O’Donnell asked: "Are you suggesting, Savannah, it was your questions that were the reason the President walked out? Because that sounds like where you're going with this." Guthrie humbly replied: "Well, I'm not quite that self-centered. But all I'm saying is I'm very happy to have my question answered, and certainly, personally by the President."
"MSNBC News Live" anchor Contessa Brewer on Tuesday speculated as to whether supposed obstructionism by congressional Republicans may end up hampering the response to the swine flu outbreak. Talking to Republican strategist Tucker Bounds and Democratic strategist Peter Mirijanian, she asserted, "Let me ask you, Health and Human Services secretary has not been confirmed. You have a missing director of the CDC. The surgeon general is not there."
Specifically addressing Bounds, Brewer quizzed, "Do you, Tucker, think that Republicans are in any way to blame for standing in the way of those important positions- when you're facing swine flu- from being filled?" Bounds, of course pointed out that Democrats control both the Senate and the House. As for the CDC, Obama has not even nominated a candidate. Regarding the position of surgeon general, Dr. Sanjay Gupta was considered, but took his name out of contention. No one has picked to fill the spot. So, how, exactly, would Republicans be to blame? Brewer didn't say.
Separating personal feelings from straight-up journalism is something MSNBC anchors have had trouble with in the past, and David Shuster is no exception.
During MSNBC's daytime news coverage on April 24, Shuster interviewed Bill Himpler of the American Financial Services Association. The discussion was nominally about the legislation sponsored by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), designed to freeze credit card rates, it became more about Shuster's view that credit card companies are gouging their customers. Throughout the four-minute interview, Shuster threw out anti-business questions and occasional hyperbole.
"MSNBC News Live" host Norah O'Donnell on Wednesday dismissed the tea party rallies that took place across the country last week as "top down" and not organic, prompting a complaint from a Republican strategist over the network's coverage. The discussion arose during an interview with GOP strategist Karen Hanretty and a Democratic operative over the leadership of the Republican Party.
After Hanretty asserted that the tea parties were an example of grass roots conservative leadership, O'Donnell retorted, "Karen, what was organic about the tea party protest? Those were not from the ground up." She went on to label the nationwide events "top down," which prompted Hanretty to quip, "No. I know MSNBC likes to promote that those were top down, but that's not the case at all." (MSNBC hosts were relentless in their attacks on the the parties. Most famously, "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann on April 16 talked to actress Janeane Garofalo, who deemed the demonstrations racist.)
April 17 marked the 13th annual "Day of Silence," a gay rights protest event sponsored by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) that takes place in schools across the nation. Of course, gay groups can afford to be silent for a day, because they have the mainstream news media to speak for them.
"Day of Silence" is, according to the event's Web site, "a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools ...the event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT."
Predictably, the media covered this year's event in a positive manner, leaving little room for discussions of it as an indoctrination tool pushed on students by gay activists. And they certainly didn't report that the LGBT community and its allies don't have a problem with "name calling, bullying and harassment" when it's directed against people who disagree with them.
"MSNBC News Live" host Contessa Brewer on Monday speculated as to whether the liberal-leaning Meghan McCain could become "the voice of the Republican Party." Brewer, who was talking to Washington Times reporter Christina Bellantoni about the daughter of the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, ignored the fact that Ms. McCain has admitted she supported Democrats John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000. [audio available here]
Instead, referencing the 24-year-old blogger'sspeech to the Log Cabin Republicans on Saturday, Brewer queried, "...Is it time for the Republican Party to be more inclusive of people from all different orientations?"She then asked Bellantoni, "...We talk about Limbaugh, Michael Steele, Sarah Palin, is it possible Meghan McCain becomes the voice of the Republican Party?" How bizarre is it that Brewer was asking if a woman who supported Gore and Kerry, and spoke to an organization of gay Republicans that refused to endorse George W. Bush in 2004, will one day lead the GOP? (In her latest Daily Beast blog, McCain attacked the "creepy" Karl Rove.)
[UPDATED: 2009-04-16 15:01:00] "MSNBC News Live" host Contessa Brewer on Wednesday reported four times on the possible threat of right-wing violence against the government. And for several of those segments there was a graphic in the background that featured the elephant logo of the GOP and the words, "New Right-Wing Threat?" Speaking to Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, Brewer asked about a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report warning of "right-wing extremists." In a bewildered tone, she wondered, "...Is it just a leap to think that they're talking about Republicans? They didn't even mention conservatives in the report."
If the DHS report didn't mention conservatives or Republicans, why did MSNBC feature a graphic that included an elephant, clearly a symbol for the GOP? In an earlier segment, NBC correspondent Pete Williams explained, "Now, we're not talking about [the] political right here. We're talking about extremist groups. Neo-Nazi groups, white supremacist groups, anti-government groups, hate groups." Brewer promptly responded, "So to be clear here, not just extreme conservatives." Not just extreme conservatives?
MSNBC featured the Republican Party's elephant logo in a segment on Wednesday's "MSNBC News Live" about the possible rise of right-wing hate groups. Anchor Contessa Brewer introduced the piece by asserting, "The White House is warning that a bad economy, combined with the election of the nation's first black President, could draw new extremist right-wing members, especially war veterans, to a dangerous cause." An onscreen graphic behind her featured a red and blue Republican elephant and fretted, "New Right-Wing Threat?" Even if one were to believe the report, how fair is it for MSNBC to link one of America's two major parties to such violence?
A second graphic for the remainder of the segment hyperbolically wondered, "Rise of the Radical Right?" Brewer interviewed Washington Times correspondent Eli Lake, who broke the story of the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report on Tuesday. After Lake pointed out that a footnote in the DHS analysis defines right-wing extremists as both hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, and also those concerned with state rights, Brewer inquired, "Are there any of these groups that have shown violent tendencies, trying to organize, overthrow the government or anything along those lines?" Lake chuckled and mused, "I mean, other than, I guess, you know, people in the Revolutionary War in 1776?"
Everything you thought you knew about MSNBC political slant - throw it out the window, because one MSNBC host says you're probably wrong.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer, appearing on "The Mark Reardon Show" on St. Louis KMOX 1120 AM radio on April 13. Brewer defended her network against the perception that it is a liberal cable news channel.
"No, but we're not liberal," Brewer said. "No, we're not liberal. We're not liberal. That's crazy - that's crazy talk."
According to Brewer, since MSNBC has a program hosted by former Republican Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough and has Pat Buchanan as a contributor that absolves the network of having the "liberal" label attached to it.
Last Friday, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer expressed her shock and disbelief that Arizona State University would not award President Barack Obama an honorary degree since he was their commencement speaker.
However, over the weekend, the University announced it would instead name "their most important scholarship" after Obama - instead of awarding the president an honorary degree.
"Here's the statement from ASU President Michael Crow: ‘We never felt an honorary degree was the only or event the best means of honoring his tremendous service to our country,'" Brewer said. "‘Naming the scholarship program after President Obama that will affect the lives of thousands of students is an honor befitting, not only the president's exceptional achievements, but also his value as an individual.'"
That didn't impress Brewer, responding on MSNBC in a segment on April 13. "Whoop-dee-do! That's my reaction," Brewer said
It's not often during midday cable news broadcasting you get to see raw emotion from one or two of the hosts. However, when President Barack Obama gets snubbed, there are exceptions to the rule.
On MSNBC on April 10, co-hosts Contessa Brewer and Carlos Watson put their disapproval on display for viewers to see while reporting a decision by Arizona State University not to award Obama an honorary degree for speaking at the school's commencement next month.
"In other news, President Obama will be giving the commencement address at Arizona State University on May 13th. But the president will not be getting an honorary degree according to the school. Here's why, quote, ‘While President Obama has already achieved remarkable success including becoming the first African-American president, his greatest work is yet to come. We will be delighted to consider him for an honorary degree once he leaves office at the end of the presidency.'"
You could almost hear "How dare he!" being uttered by the left-wing establishment when Politico reported April 9 that a Republican congressman identified a specific number of "socialists" in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In a speech he gave at his home district, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., the ranking Republican, Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) counterpart, on the House Banking Committee, said there were 17 socialists among him and his colleagues in the House.
Some in the media were also disturbed by Bachus' remarks and expressed dismay on MSNBC April 10. Emily Heil, a frequent guest on MSNBC and "Heard on the Hill" columnist for Roll Call, expressed her shock that Bachus would use "socialist" for a description of some members of Congress. MSNBC's Peter Alexander asked Heil what sort of backlash Bachus might face.
"Sure, well I think people are going to be pressing him on this and I think it was really a surprising thing to say - to say something that sort of inflammatory with that level of specificity, with providing an actual number," Heil said.
At the top of the 3:00PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell and Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei were practically tripping over themselves declaring Barack Obama the "rock star" of Europe in the wake of the G-20 summit. O’Donnell began by asking: "Can we gauge this meeting as a success?" VandeHei replied: "I think early indications are it probably was a big success...I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas...and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception." O’Donnell agreed: "You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment...I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour...Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there..."
Later, O’Donnell compared Obama to Bush: "...there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington...How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?" VandeHei then won the contest over who could praise Obama more: "Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break... Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his ipod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him."
In a rather amusing moment that one might say was symptomatic of MSNBC, "News Live" host Contessa Brewer on Tuesday featured a segment on a truck that the Democratic National Committee would be bringing to different parts of the country. On the vehicle's side was a illustration of radio host Rush Limbaugh smoking a cigar with the words "Americans didn't vote for a Rush to failure" in big letters. MSNBC showcased a photo of the parked truck.
In the upper left corner, a notation reads, "Courtesy: Democratic National Committee." So, the network of Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and David Shuster is now airing promotional pictures directly from the DNC? This comes just a day after Shuster, on his "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" program, railed against "nutty," "offensive" quotes from Limbaugh.
Considering that MSNBC also has a habit of picking up reports directly from the liberal Media Matters, as Shuster did in a March 24 segment on Newt Gingrich, this shouldn't be too surprising.
During the 10am hour of "MSNBC News Live" on Monday, host Tamron Hall completely skipped the ideology of a left-wing documentarian as she talked with him about his new movie "Rethink Afghanistan," which claims that "troops are not the answer" in that country. Hall never identified Director Robert Greenwald, who has made documentaries such as "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," and "WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price," as a liberal. Instead, she simply described him as a "documentary filmmaker."
Additionally, Hall offered almost no tough questions, instead tossing softballs such as "What is your observation, having been [to Afghanistan] recently, regarding the Obama administration's plans?" Uninterrupted, Greenwald was allowed to later assert, "Well, again, remember that many people there believe that troops are not the answer. Troops contribute to the problem." He also instructed that the U.S. should send 17,000 teachers instead of soldiers. At the close of the interview, he complained, "But, I think we all get trapped in, as one of my friends in Afghanistan said, 'Shoot first. Think later.'"
In contrast, on January 9, when MSNBC host David Shuster interviewed John Ziegler about his movie on the media's treatment of Sarah Palin, the anchor got into a heated argument with the filmmaker, repeatedly challenging the "conservative documentary's" thesis and deriding, "John, you and Sarah Palin can't take any responsibility for the fact that she wasn't prepared to run for vice president."
Reacting to a 12:30PM EST Thursday press conference in which House Republicans unveiled an alternative budget plan to President Obama’s, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer seemed to be annoyed that the GOP interrupted coverage of the President’s virtual town hall meeting: "And moments ago, Republican leaders got together for a news conference. They said they would unveil what they called their alternative to the President's $3.6 trillion budget...I am very frustrated...Because I -- we've been waiting for this, we cut away from the President to hear the big buildup. Republicans have plan. They have ideas. They're not the party of no. And all I heard in that news conference was what they don't like about the President's plan."
Congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira responded to Brewer’s criticism: "It does not have, in the sense of a traditional budget, numbers with estimates, an estimate for how much they would reduce the deficit, things of that nature. That, they say, will come next week when they take this up on the floor. For example, what would they do? They would undo what they call the 'recent, reckless, and wasteful Democratic spending binge,' including the so-called stimulus and omnibus bills they would undo."
Brewer replied: "But Mike...Mike, we've heard that before...We've heard them and today you get us all hyped up. You have our undivided attention. And what happens but you get up and repeat the same criticism we've already heard. I didn't hear ideas. I heard the promise of ideas and 'we're going to have more on x, y and z,' but I didn't hear the ideas."
Afraid that the AIG executive bonus bailout just may be the demise of the Democratic Party, MSNBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd trivialized the death of Terry Schiavo by suggesting the fight over Schiavo’s life was the demise of the Republican party.
Host Andrea Mitchell, Gene Robinson, and Chuck Todd were discussing Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s survival of the AIG scandal on Mitchell’s March 20 show MSNBC Live when Todd inserted this bit of political wisdom:
“An… Andrea? Really fast? You never know, you never know, when you know, this could turn into a Schiavo moment. And remember how the Terry Schiavo thing ended up being the beginning of the end for the Republican Party and their control. You just never know when one of these stories just catches wildfire in the popul…, in sort of the populist front. Sometimes you can’t stop it no matter which party you are.”
This morning, MSNBC’s Alex Witt was in full damage control mode, working whatever apologist explanations she could find into her reluctant coverage of last night's teleprompter-free “Tonight Show” appearance by the president. [audio available here]
Obama was doing quite well at staying on message, when he made the following comment in reaction to Jay Leno's question about his infamous lack of bowling ability:
JAY LENO: I imagine the bowling alley has been burned and closed down.
President BARACK OBAMA: No, I've been practicing.
OBAMA: I bowled a 129. I had –
LENO: Oh, no, that's very good. Yeah. That's very good, Mr. President.
OBAMA: This is sort of like Special Olympics or something.
Near the end of the 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC on Monday, anchor Norah O’Donnell attacked former Vice President Dick Cheney for arguing that the Bush administration should not be blamed for the economic crisis, exclaiming: "Can't blame the Bush administration? Well, let me show you this. The unemployment rate during the Bush administration rose from 4.2% to 7.6%. Poverty jumped from 32.9 million individuals to 37.3 million. The number of uninsured jumped from 41.2 million to 45.7 million, and the budget -- the inherited budget surplus of $120 billion and now it's a $1.3 trillion deficit." O’Donnell failed to note that the unemployment rate only jumped in the final few months of the administration, after the economic crisis hit.
After O’Donnell’s rant, which sounded like a list of Democratic talking points, she turned to Republican strategist Phil Musser and asked: "Phil, does the Vice President have any credibility left when he says don't blame the Bush administration, with numbers like that?" Musser responded: "Look, I think that the Vice President is giving his view point on the last eight years and clearly, the figures that you point out are the figures that you point out, not all of those should be laid at the Bush administration's feet." Musser went on to link O'Donnell's comments with the strategy of the Obama White House: "...clearly your seeing out of the White House now, the strategy of linkage of yesterday...If that's where they're going with this, I think it's totally counter-productive and not useful."
MSNBC host David Shuster continued his dogged pursuit of Rush Limbaugh on Monday, hosting a segment with an onscreen graphic that screamed, "Is Rush Toxic for GOP?" After discussing a birthday celebration in honor of Senator Ted Kennedy, Shuster asserted, "About the only thing that might have put a damper on Kennedy's celebration were some jarring comments from conservative heavyweight Rush Limbaugh."
The supposed "jarring comments" by the radio host were made last Friday during a discussion of how the White House has been using Kennedy's ill health as a kind of an inspirational reason to pass national health care. On his show, Limbaugh noted that before "it's all over it [the bill] will be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill." On Monday's "MSNBC News Live," the host brought on Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon and Roll Call editor Erin Billings who both agreed that Limbaugh's comment went over the line. Billings asserted, "I would say that Rush Limbaugh is certainly playing into the divisive figure that the Democrats are accusing him of being." Bacon claimed that "people" were deriding the remarks as "not the right tone."
During the 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC on Thursday, anchor Norah O’Donnell teased an upcoming segment on Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Party: "Coming up, is the party of Lincoln in danger of becoming the party of jell-o? Why conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh could be a liability for the Grand Old Party." O’Donnell was referring to an Newsweek article by columnist Jonathan Alter and later spoke to him about it: "I want to read from your piece. You write, 'everyone knows he has jumped the shark culturally, becoming a black-shirted joke even as he dominates the headlines. But it's worse than that for Republicans, Limbaugh has taken the great GOP calling card -- toughness -- and shredded it. The party of Lincoln is in danger of becoming the party jell-o.' Explain further."
Alter elaborated on his argument: "Okay. Norah, the great strength of the Republican Party for the last 75 years has been strength. The fact that they are a tough party and their rhetoric has been tough. They were tough against the New Deal. They were tough in a Cold War. They were tough on Monica Lewinsky. If you can't even stand-up to Rush Limbaugh, if the dittoheads come after you and you wilt and then apologize for perfectly legitimate criticism of a radio talk show broadcaster, how tough is that. You look wimpy, you look weak, you look whiney." According to Alter, by not denouncing Rush Limbaugh for being tough on Obama, the Republican Party is not being tough.
At the top of Wednesday’s 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell declared: "Well, the back and forth between Rush Limbaugh and RNC Chairman Michael Steele continues. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the GOP's approval is sinking fast, only 26% of those polled give the party a positive rating." O’Donnell spoke to Jennifer Skalka, editor of the blog Hotline On Call, and asked her about Rush: "Rush Limbaugh, today, really upped the ante, for the first time, saying he wants to challenge Barack Obama to a debate on his show...What's he doing? Is he walking into the trap that the Democrats, including President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, set? Which is to try and anoint and make Rush Limbaugh the face of the Republican Party."
Skalka replied: "Well, you kind of get the feeling that Rush Limbaugh is enjoying being the face of the Republican Party, whether or not that hurts the chairman of the RNC and congressional Republican leaders, Rush Limbaugh is another big personality." O’Donnell followed Skalka by wondering: "But politically speaking, when we showed the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, that the party's approval ratings are 26%. And they've done polling that shows Rush Limbaugh is very unpopular with the independents. How does it hurt the Republican Party to have Rush Limbaugh as the face in many ways?"
At the top of the 12PM EST hour of MSNBC news coverage on Tuesday, anchor David Shuster spoke with Washington Post reporter Keith Richburg about the recent divide between Rush Limbaugh and RNC Chair Michael Steele: "Following the latest Republican Party civil war. A complete about-face by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, after calling Rush Limbaugh's show 'ugly' and 'incendiary.' Steele's now apologized in the face of a withering attack from the radio host." Richburg later observed: "You know, it's fascinating. It's like the circular firing squad. I mean, maybe this is what Rush had in mind when he was talking about ‘Operation Chaos.’"
Shuster later asked Richburg: "I mean, when Rush Limbaugh says that all Republicans want President Obama to fail. What's so difficult with somebody saying, 'no, no, we think that his policies may fail, but we don't want them to fail.' What's so difficult about that?" Richburg replied: "...it almost seems like the Republican Party needs a 'Sister Soljah' moment...It seems like the Republicans need somebody who's willing to stand up and say Rush doesn't represent all of the views of the Republican Party and then not rush and apologize to him...I'll bet you whoever does that could end up as the, you know, the nominee of the party or at least the major party."
MSNBC host Tamron Hall on Monday talked to a contributor from the liberal Nation magazine who bashed Rush Limbaugh and also highlighted a historical error in the radio host’s address to the Conservative Political Action Conference this past weekend. Introducing Ari Melber, the "MSNBC News Live" host began, “Well, a lot of people are talking about Mr. Limbaugh’s comments and, perhaps, an- even- a mistake he made.”
After playing a clip in which Limbaugh incorrectly attributed a quote from to the Constitution (it was from the Declaration of Independence), Hall touted the error to Melber, who is also a Democratic strategist. She quizzed, “So, Ari, Rush thought he was quoting the Constitution. It was the Declaration of Independence. How embarrassing is that for him, especially the way he slammed the President?” Of course, Melber helpfully piled on. He derided, “Well, this is the problem for Rush Limbaugh. He really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Some might think MSNBC isn’t as aggressively liberal during the daytime as it is in prime time. But David Shuster aggressively pushed the idea that the Republicans were "out of touch" in the 11 am hour Thursday, complete with music going into the commercial break ("Out of Touch" by Hall and Oates – like that’s on the cutting edge?) Shuster suggested the Conservative Political Action Conference was a joke since it was featuring Joe the Plumber, and that booking him was a "huge mistake."
SHUSTER: With us now live is Armstrong Williams, he’s a syndicated radio talk show host, and Armstrong, why should anybody take CPAC seriously when it allows Joe the Plumber, invites Joe the Plumber to be one of the featured speakers? Good grief!
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, Joe the Plumber represents a certain constituency out there. He got a lot --
SHUSTER: Right. He represents those who don't have a proper license with tax liens against them. Does the Republican Party really want Joe the Plumber to be a role model?
During the Monday 12PM EST hour of MSNBC news coverage, anchor Norah O’Donnell interviewed conservative film maker John Ziegler, creator of ‘Media Malpractice,’ a documentary on media bias against Sarah Palin, and denied any such bias: "Well, let me ask you, you called the treatment of Sarah Palin and her family a, quote, 'media assassination, one of the greatest public injustices of our time.' Is that a little strong? Are you and her a little thin-skinned?"
Ziegler responded by pointing out O’Donnell’s own anti-Palin bias: "The evidence is overwhelming. It's continuing today. I mean, just a few weeks ago, Norah, you incorrectly stated on the air Sarah Palin called Barack Obama a terrorist during the campaign." NewsBusters reported on O’Donnell’s January 29 smear of Palin.
O’Donnell criticized part of Ziegler’s documentary: "Let me ask you, in your documentary you cite examples of media bias by Saturday Night Live, that that's media bias. Aren't those comedians?...How's that media bias?" Ziegler explained: "Poll after poll shows that more people get their news from comedy shows because the line between entertainment and news, as this network has shown time and time again, has virtually evaporated...MSNBC used to be a news organization, now it's an advocacy organization, and SNL is actually thought to be a news organization."
During the 3:00PM EST hour of MSNBC news coverage, anchor Norah O’Donnell discovered the source of sexism in the Middle East was not Islamic fundamentalism, but rather, capitalism: "And to another big story, is oil behind sexism in the Middle East? It's a provocative new theory out there today, suggesting the real culprit of the lower status of women in the Middle East is because of the region's oil wealth."
O’Donnell then turned to Sally Quinn of the Washington, who wrote about the theory on the newspaper’s On Faith blog: "This is a hot topic, Sally. Do you believe that oil is behind sexism in the Middle East?" Quinn replied: "Well, I do think that it has a lot to do with it...when you have an oil-rich country, there's much less manufacturing, so that there are fewer jobs for women. But also because the country is so rich that women don't need to work and therefore they're comfortable and they stay home."
Later, O’Donnell concluded: "But it's a very interesting question, it's not necessarily Islam, it may be more, and you would know this better than I, as -- because of what you're doing -- it may more be the wealth of that country." Quinn replied: "Well, it is the wealth. The -- part of it, too, has to do with culture. I mean, that they come from a culture where women don't work. And so, because the oil-rich countries, all of the jobs that are involved around oil are much more male-oriented jobs."
On Monday's "MSNBC News Live," the cable network featured yet another critical segment on Rush Limbaugh and his role as a leader of the GOP. The segment, hosted by David Shuster, featured a confrontational graphic which screamed, "Who Elected Rush Limbaugh?" Shuster brought on syndicated talk show host Armstrong Williams to bash Limbaugh over the issue of how much power the radio star has within the GOP.
According to Williams, Limbaugh is "self-anointed." "Let's make sure we're clear on that," the commentator added. Continuing the attack, Williams repeated, "He has not been appointed to anything. He's self-appointed, self-anointed and self-selling." Deriding Limbaugh's import, the usually conservative Williams concluded, "He's an entertainer. He's a self-promoter. He wants to make himself out to be important. That's okay."
Williams has been a somewhat less prominent figure since an incident in 2005 in which it was revealed that he had been paid $240,000 to promote President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act on his syndicated television show. According to a January 5, 2005 USA Today article, the host said he didn't recall mentioning the agreement on air.